And once slash_girl caps the everloving bajezus out of it, there will be new "Geeks with Guns" icons. Because I can.
Criminal Minds episode 4x02, "The Angel Maker," written by Dan Dworkin and Jay Beatty, directed by Glenn Kershaw.
Cold open, pretty predictable, aksually. But the cut to Hotch with Trauma Hair (TM) in the MRI is verra nice. Also, Hotch twitchy and unforthcoming and with his hunched shoulders ruining the line of his suit is painful to watch. Oh, honey. "What if I said I'd take it easy and limit my role in the field?"
Well, Hotch. You'd be full of shit is what, man. He's pleading with her, and he's lying to her. And he looks like a terrified twelve-year old in this shot, which is about as far from the Hotch we know as can be imagined.
Nice cut from Hotch answering the phone and saying JJ's name to--JJ presenting the case. And a nice setup for similar narrative cuts later in the episode, which I will annotate as they arise.
New season, new Reid Hair. And yes, Reid's Trauma Hair is gone with S3: he's clean and well-shaven and back in a terrible short-sleeved shirt. Spencer Reid is putting himself together again. At least for the time being, it's somebody else's turn in the barrel. (Byplay between Reid and Morgan, totally cute. Totally fan service, also.)
I love that Emily reacts to the town name. because yes, all small towns in CM have suggestive and unsettling names....
Postmortem puncture wounds.
"Were there any other victims?"
aaaaaaaaaaaaand roll credits. Five minutes into the open this time; they's just putting the whole first act up front these days.
Nice Chuck Palahniuk quote, Hotch. Sinister, and yet reassuring. it all depends on what you build, doesn't it? A pile of bodies... or a team.
"This unsub's a weaker guy."
"We have parachutes on board, right?"
"We should. It's standard on all federal aircraft."
...yes, because I have a nasty suspicious mind, I wonder what they're setting up for later with that exchange.
Rossi will go out of his way to set up an elaborate conversational gambit. It's a writerly habit, which amuses me, because we do get fragments of Rossi-the-writer in this one, in several places. And his team all look at him and shake their heads.
"On the victim."
"In the victim." Yeah, trust Morgan to make that precise. My show does not flinch from the telling detail.
...and Reid the SF Geek. With the portentous intomation "The exact DNA makeup of another person."
"I'm floating the idea of an eviler twin!"
Great narrative technique there, where we bring the obvious thriller explanation to the viewer's attention, mock it, develop character while we do so, and move on.
Morgan mothers Mom. "You have been cleared to fly, haven't you?"
COTW this week is another awesome one. Calm, competent, and sarcastic.
Reid checks out the jewelery makings, Hotch assumes the killer is a man. Reid exposits.
"And the semen?"
"Smuggled out of the prison, kept on ice..."
"There's an entire cottage industry based on serial killer effects and memorabilia." Reid can't decide if he's geeked or nauseated. Hotch is built of scorn (not at Reid, at serial killere groupies.)
Something is nagging at Emily's memory. And she hasn't quite got it.
I love how Morgan totally snubs the unsavory prison guard.
We establish a red herring!
And a nice twitch of the prison guard's jaw muscle as he figures it out. A plan is hatching.
Reid the graphologist/psycholinguist strikes again. We remember that our team has skill sets! Such a fun thing they're doing with him this episode. It's as if, as part of his healing process, he's reset about two years... because he'd had to tear himself down, and now he's going to have to build a new him out of the pieces. He's taken himself back down to the foundations, and he's doing reconstruction. But he's hanging on to the good bits. So. Cool.
He's back to being Reid the human computer--there's been an obvious reset to where he was before "Revelations," but he's retained the confidence and professionalism he's earned over the past season and a half. Funny how they show us healing taking place by allowing him to be fragile again.
In some lights, it might be a retreat, but I don't think it will turn out to be so in the long run, because this is Spencer Reid, and he is--not fearless, certainly not that. But indomitable. He takes it in the teeth, and he just keeps coming. He didn't like the person he was turning into so he went back and started over.
And that letter--ehee. Oh, beautiful setup. "Those who prayed to forget me will one day see my face and shrink in fear."
There's the whole plot right there, in what sounds like vague ominosity. Beeyutifool.
"I'd obviously like to look at it under magnification, with a better light."
"It could be the genuine article, just written before his death."
"Mail here isn't that slow."
I really like the way they're all responding to the creepiness factor with dismissal. Yes, this reads like the setup of a slasher flick -- Jason's not dead!-- but we are not in a slasher flick. We are the FBI.
Ow, Hotch. Back away from the backhoe, man.
Emily trying to take care of Hotch, nice character bit. "Can I do anything?"
Because that's what she does. She rescues people. Reid, Hotch, streetwalkers, orphaned children. Emily is a doer.
"Did something happen that day?" Rossi is not subtle.
"He was suffocating."
Mmm. Yep. We are not necessarily pro death-penalty here at the Criminal Minds workshop...
"I will be born again."
"A murdering pedophile paints clowns and people hang them on their wall."
Coulrophobia! Funny thing is, I have a story much like Garcia's, except the clown in my case was well-meaning and little toddler me probably traumatized him for life by crying and hiding from him....
Boy, that's a lovely shot of Morgan with the flowering bushes behind him.
"Apparently making it funny makes it okay." Garcia thematic statement, drink!
Morgan and Prentiss's shadows moving across the windows... our heroes parallel the bad guys again.
"One to the grill, one to the groin." Okay, I should not laugh. But that's a lovely turn of phrase.
Morgan and Prentiss have a great dynamic. "Man, you're good."
And of course, Emily notices the tiny detail that blows the case wide open. "I think we've got this UNSUB all wrong."
Any scene in which Reid talks about sex is inherently funny. Probably because of the incongruity: you expect him to be uncomfortable, and instead he's clinical and detached.
What kind of an idiot tries to blackmail
"You ever get groupies at your book signings?"
And this is the episode in which people ask Prentiss casual questions about her love life. "Would you endure that for a guy?"
Which she deflects. "For Barry Manilow, maybe."
"I'm guessing she came for the view."
Rossi and Prentiss, also making a good team these days. "Any connection you had with Cortland was severed when he died." "Not the copycat's."
And it's very interesting to watch Prentiss inexorably paint the witness into a corner there--just the way she does in "Seven Seconds." Nice.
"I thought there were no secrets between you."
"You've never been in love, have you?" And then the flare and cut, fade into a jumble of unconnected images that could be a flashback or could be UNSUB Pov.
Oh, yeah. Emily and her secrets. That's exactly the look she gave Morgan when he told her she'd never been prey. The one that says honey, you don't know me. And I don't care if you ever do, because I want it that way. Echoes back to "You never blinked."
"Her whole life. All 28 years of it anyway."
Of course Hotch asks about the kids.
"She did this. It was a template." Nice equation of team member with UNSUB.
"Death row haiku. You have to try to write this bad." Rossi's inner author is offended.
And Reid... cracks the case.
"What do you need to crack it?"
"The ability to clone myself and a year's supply of Adderall?" Reid on amphetamines... kind of terrifying to contemplate....
"I'll put on the coffee."
And there's a change, too. Rossi has learned respect for Reid's capabilities, and also how to support him.
"Small towns suck for victimology."
...and Prentiss cracks the case.
Rossi makes the obvious Zodiac connection--don't tell me we have a copycat of a copycat... and Prentiss elaborates on the connection. "No."
"His origami things."
And Reid cracks the code again. Spencercam! Drink!
"How'd you crack it?"
"I profiled the author."
"He got the code from the Aryans?" JJ is Sir Not Appearing In The Episode.
"Either that, or he read a lot of sixteenth century literature." No, Spencer, but you have....
"Normally you'd use a computer to run all these different combinations, but it was quicker just to do it longhand until I found the right one."
"He's so lifelike."
So nice to see that friendship in good repair again. and an echo of the way they rely on each other at the climax. Prentiss and Reid the WonderGeek Twins are back!
JJ and Reid get the parental aspect of the case right away.
"She's Cortland's #1 fan."
"I just want us to be together again."
Man, Emily looks stricken there. Her and stupid love. It's a theme.
Garcia and JJ profiling the killer through birth records is beautiful. "Oh, your baby daddy's a third grade teacher? Mine likes to poke people in the stomach with a tool so there."
"I think I know what it was." Hotch still has a face full of Ow. Poor Hotch.
"Daddy's watching." (My fandom has daddy issues, drink.)
Rossi cracks the case!
Mummy in trunk, another day on the job. Nobody blinks, as JJ would say. (beatriceeagle notes the music doesn't even jump.)
...nice. "I think you should look for an open window." Hotch knows what Morgan is good for. And commando raids are high up on the list. "Plain Sight," he came in through the bathroom window... just like the UNSUB. Except different, this time.
"I need a megaphone." Oh honey. Don't we all.
I also love Hotch handing the megaphone off to Prentiss, and Prentiss's enumeration of Cortland's betrayals. "I know you thought you were special, but the truth is, the same things he wrote to you, he wrote to many other women. I've seen the letters."
And so has Reid. Reid is remembering them for you. With his eidetic memory, the one you told him wasn't good enough for Gideon's letter.
So what was in your letter, Emily? Or what do you wish had been in it? The one you got, or didn't get? The one you didn't tell Reid about when you told him to reread Gideon's not-a-suicide note?
And who were you thinking of when you said, last season, so brokenly, "You don't choose who you love?"
WonderGeek Twin Powers Activate! There's Reid, dredging up the contents of Cortland's letters, scribbling it down for her. Beautiful teamwork. Also beautiful, Morgan hustling the victim out the window while Emily intones "It isn't your fault. It isn't your fault."
Morgan and the victim, lovely. Galahad to the rescue of the damsel in distress.
"I think we got some teargas. I'm assuming it's still good." Small town cop, you are love.
No way out! Refrain! Drink!
"She's not done."
Lovely shot of Hotch, Prentiss, Rossi, Reid, and the COTW drawing their weapons in a ragged line. I notice Reid gets his gun out before Prentiss or Rossi....
COTW gets the kill, and Hotch goes down from the acoustic trauma. And this time Rossi goes to care for him, and Prentiss goes forward to secure the scene.
Brownies. "My recipe."
A closing scene in dialogue with the end of "Tabula Rasa," and Reid's dismissal of closure there. Here we have love forged out of the ashes.
"Maybe you've got to sit with the past before you can walk away from it."
"Yeah, he likes to 'vibe it'."
"Okay, smartass, you drive."
"Sweet." Reid may be rebuilding himself from scratch, but he's not the old Reid. He gets to drive, and he wears dark colored clothing.
The ending bit here, very nice...and Hotch, up against the wall. He's lost everything but the job, and now he stands in danger of losing that, too. And to keep it, he's got to be able to let go, to step back from it and let the team step up. And that's a hard thing, as coffeeem pointed out, for a guy whose only purpose in life is to be needed. Oh, Mom. Sometimes you have to take care of yourself, man.
(Dude, the preview. Prentiss taking the hit for Reid? Ow. I love my show.)
There'll be a formal review over at Tor.com sometime in the wee hours; I'll post a link once it's up. Also, it looks like 42 minutes is what we get this season. Shame on you, CBS. Shame.